Audiences Will Enjoy The Musical Journey Offered By Klezmer-ish In Its New Album

Courtesy: Riverboat Records

Great things can and often do come in the most unexpected places.  Musical collective Klezmer-ish is proof of that statement.  Having originally met while serving with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, the group released its debut album in 2016.  The album, Music of the Travellers, is a celebration of cultural diversity, including that of its own members, who come from their own unique background.  The group followed up that record Friday with its sophomore album Dusty Road.  Released through Riverboat Records, the 12-song, mostly instrumental album is a presentation that World Music fans will find appealing.  That is because as the group’s name infers, the group’s music is not limited to just the Jewish musical tradition.  Rather, the 56-minute record reaches into the American influence on the style to add to its appeal.  Case in point is the group’s take on the timeless jazz song ‘I’m Confessin’.’  This song will be addressed shortly.  The most notable of the full-on klezmer style work comes right in the song’s outset in ‘The Klezmer’s Freilach.’  It will be discussed a little later.  The album’s title track, which closes out its run, is yet another way in which the album shows its appeal.  When it is considered with the other noted songs and the rest of the album’s presentation, the whole of the album becomes a presentation that will appeal to any World Music aficionado.

Klezmer-ish’s sophomore album Dusty Road is a successful new effort from the up-and-coming World Music collection that fans of the genre are certain to appreciate.  That is because despite the group’s name, its new album is not limited to just the noted style of music.  The quartet also leans into the jazz realm in its new album while also maintaining the klezmer influences in the process.  That is most obvious in the group’s take of the timeless jazz song ‘I’m Confessin’.’  One of only two full compositions in this record to feature a vocal performance, this song takes the European influence of the klezmer style and crosses that with a touch of old Benny Goodman big band style approach for a whole arrangement that is one of the most unique and enjoyable takes on the classic Chris Smith/Sterling Grant work to ever be recorded.  The gentle, flowing clarinet work of Thomas Verity works with Rob Shepley’s work on the guitar to make the whole a work that will take listeners back to the shimmering social clubs of the 1930s that lit up the nights.  The same can be said of the equally gentle vocal delivery in this song.  The whole is a work that blends the two unique noted musical styles for one whole that is unquestionably one of the album’s strongest entries.  It is just one of the album’s most notable works.  The record’s opener, ‘The Klezzmer’s Freilach’ is another strong addition to the album.

‘The Klezmer’s Freilach’ stands on its own merits as it is a direct tribute to the dances that members of the Jewish community danced – and dance to this day – at celebrations, such as holidays and mitvahs.  The joy that must be experienced at those dances is so well translated throughout this song.  It starts off slow, but builds quickly, delivering so much energy and positive sense.  One can almost visualize the people dancing, and then resetting at the song’s midpoint before their feet start moving all over again.  Shepley and Verity once again shine here in their own right while accordion player Cocettina Del Vecchio adds her own touch through her performance.  Double bassist Marcel Becker ensures the song’s tempo is maintained through his own work, too.  The group’s dynamic control throughout the composition makes for so much engagement and enjoyment.  The end result of the group’s performance is a strong opener for the album, and another example of what makes the album such an enjoyable overall presentation.  The record’s title track, which closes it out, is one more of its strong points.

‘Dusty Road’ is the second of the album’s two only full compositions that also boasts a vocal line.  It’s hard to know which member of the quartet leads the way with this track.  That is because all four members of the group contribute so much to this song.  The vocals combine with the instrumentation to conjure thoughts of Nat King Cole at times.  The instrumentation meanwhile once again adds that klezmer influence through the use of the accordion and clarinet while the guitar line adds more of a jazz sense to the song.  At the same time, the clarinet could be argued to exhibit its own jazz sense along with that klezmer influence.  Regardless, it can be said that this song brings listeners the best of both worlds once again and balances them expertly.  The result is a composition that is just as engaging and entertaining as the album’s other songs, including the others discussed here.  When all of the songs are considered together, they make Dusty Road a musical road that any listener will enjoy traveling.

Klezmer-ish’s sophomore album Dusty Road is a positive new offering from the up-and-coming World Music act.  That is because the album’s arrangements once again bring listeners elements of klezmer music and other musical styles.  All three of the songs examined here serve to support that statement.  The album’s other tracks could support that statement just as easily.  All things considered, the musical journey on which Dusty Road takes listeners is a trip that audiences will enjoy from beginning to end.  Dusty Road is available now.  More information on the album is available along with all of the band’s news at:










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Trio Tekke’s Latest LP Is One Of 2020’s Most Unique World Music Offerings

Courtesy: Riverboat Records

International musical collective Trio Tekke is scheduled to release its new full-length studio recording Strovilos today.  The 10-song record is an enjoyable new offering from the trio.  That is thanks to the record’s combined musical and lyrical content.  Right from the record’s outset, audiences are treated to quite the interesting performance in the form of ‘Tempest of the Dawn.’  It is just one of the songs that makes the record stand out, and will be addressed shortly.  ‘Whirlwind,’ which comes later in the record’s run, is another example of what makes the album a strong presentation.  ‘Karmic,’ the record’s penultimate entry, is yet another example of why this record is a presentation that World Music fans will appreciate.  When it is considered alongside the other noted songs and the rest of the album’s works, the whole of the record becomes one of this year’s top new World Music albums.

Trio Tekke’s latest full-length studio recording Strovilos – the band’s fourth album – is a work that the group’s longtime fans will appreciate just as much as those who might be less familiar with the trio’s catalog.  That is proven right from the record’s outset in the form of its opener, ‘Tempest of the Dawn.’  While this record is considered part of this year’s new World Music field, this song comes across as anything but World Music in its arrangement.  Rather, it boasts more of a light rock work with a Middle Eastern vibe thanks to the instrumentation.  The bass and drums compliment the more Middle Eastern elements (including the vocals) to make the song a strong start for the album and an equally strong example of why this record is worth hearing at least once.  What’s really interesting about the arrangement is the subtlety in its approach, when it is joined with the song’s seemingly introspective lyrical content.

The seemingly introspective nature in the song’s lyrical content is inferred as Atonis Antoniou sings in the song’s lead verse, “I strayed in the dusk/In the barren valleys/I’ve taken off to find out/What keeps drumming inside my head/Lost in the mountains and the vales/Gone in the gloom/I got out for a stroll to see/What keeps drumming inside my mind.”  He continues as the song progresses, “I dive in the nightfall/I get burned/I become a troubler cyclone/I wear the embrace of the night/I fall/I run wild on the ground/I paint myself as the dawn’s tempest/Everything’s fading before my eyes/There’s no return/Wandering on black planets, somewhere/Which God?/Which monster is touching it now?/And who is cursing at what is about to begin?”  The song closes out returning to the original question before the song’s subject pleads, “Take me, dear eaglets/Far away with you/Over the horizon to the secret cliffs.”  This, again, is quite the introspective piece.  It comes across as someone who has gone through a lot, emotionally, and as a result is still trying to figure things out.  This is, as always, this critic’s own take on the lyrics.  What’s really interesting here is that considering the emotional sense in the song’s musical arrangement, the two sides don’t seem to match.  The song’s arrangement sounds and feels so relaxed, which is the polar opposite of the seeming message in the song’s lyrical theme.  There is a certain edge in the song’s energy, yes, but the two sides seem so opposite.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though.  It really makes the song stand out that much more considering that the tension does rise as the song progresses.  Keeping that in mind, it’s a bit of an original way to illustrate the seeming emotion in such a song’s lyrics.  To that end, the two elements make the song in whole a unique work that will engage and entertain any listener.  It is just one of the record’s most notable works.  ‘Whirlwind,’ which comes a little later in the album’s 44-minute run time, is notable in its own right.

‘Whirlwind’ is completely unlike ‘Tempest of the Dawn.’  Unlike that work, this composition presents a very gentle, subdued emotional presentation through its simple instrumentation and vocals.  The percussion and stringed instrumentation is right there, presenting the familiar Middle Eastern sounds once more, but the arrangement in whole boasts its own engaging presentation through its subtle sound and approach.  That subdued approach to the song is fitting considering that the song’s lyrical content seems to be a tribute to perhaps a friend of the group.  That is inferred in the album’s liner notes, which state, “Dedicated to Yiangos (1978-2017).

If anything can be inferred from this tribute to whomever Yiangos was, that person sounded like quite an admirable figure.  The song’s lead verse pays tribute to him, stating, “At daylight he rouses/Asking for a kiss/And amorous cuddles/With the almond trees/For a pleasant scent/The pomegranate he clasps/And from the wet soil/The sweet air he gasps/Softly he sings/Chirping like a bird/The words of dawn/and of the deep spring/Alone he walks the tightrope/He dances and he twists/Naked he poises/Flirting in the mist.  The song continues, “Either he is a mad, Brahmin wizard/Or we’re all mindless, solitary beasts/Powerful wind/Take me with thee/I want to spin/As a crazy whirlwind/to find him there/Where the eagles fly/Where the sun kisses his golden hair in the sky.”  This is its own celebratory sort of eulogy for someone who it would seem was close to the members of Trio Tekke.  What’s more, it doesn’t come across as one of those overly typical tearjerker works that it easily could have been, both lyrically and musically.  Rather, it is just a gentle, happy tribute to someone who it would seem was quite an outstanding person in his own right.  It’s an example of an ode (so to speak) done right from which so many acts can take something.  This is why this song stands out so clearly among the overall body of Trio Tekke’s new album.  It is not the last of the record’s most notable works.  ‘Karmic,’ the record’s penultimate entry, is one more of the record’s strongest works.

‘Karmic’ is a work that will appeal to any listener at least in part through its upbeat musical arrangement.  The steady time keeping and positive vibes exuded through the clearly positive sound in the instrumentation and vocals make this arrangement a composition that will stick with listeners long after the song (and album) ends.  The arrangement is important to note because it compliments the song’s familiar lyrical theme so well.  It illustrates that well, the joy in the subject’s mind as he is clearly singing about a romantic interest.

The song’s subject sings in the song’s lead verse, “With kisses you madden me/My girly, lovely poppet/Inside your soft arms/It was fated, said the prophet/To end up one night/A beggar for your touch/I got lost in your eyes/Dizzy from lust/I love you/My heart beats like drums/I can’t get enough of you/I’m dying/When will you come/You’re crazy/But it’s you I desire/My poor mind, you have riled.”  He continues as the song progresses, “Of your truth, I don’t know/Or if you’re pulling my leg/You say it is all my fault/Our love you’re no longer fueling/But I got stuck on you/And how do I get to the bottom of it/My pain is heavy/My tears endless/I love you/My heart beats like drums/Guilt burns my soul/In this haze/I drink poison and dive in/An endless bottle/I love you/My heart beats like drums/And that was – Karmic.’  It would seem here that whomever the song’s subject loved so much ended the relationship and now the subject is desperate to reclaim that other person’s affections.  What is so interesting here is that more often than not, in standard American popular music, songs of such lyrical nature tend to end up being very brooding, ph woe is me type works, both in their musical and lyrical content.  This song is the exact opposite.  Of course, Trio Tekke is not an American group, so that might explain something.  Regardless, it is nice to have such a song take such an unexpected emotional turn, and that it does stand out so much, it is that much more certain that listeners will connect with the song.  Keeping that appeal in mind along with the appeal created through ‘Tempest of the Dawn,’ ‘Whirlwind’ and the rest of the album’s works, the end result is a presentation overall, that will appeal to any World Music aficionado.

Trio Tekke’s fourth full-length studio recording Strovilos is a work that will appeal just as much to the group’s established fan base as much as it will to those less familiar with the band’s catalog.  That is proven through the album’s unique musical and lyrical content, as exhibited here.  The band’s musical arrangements are compositions that rae not easily comparable to works from any of the group’s counterparts within the World Music realm.  The lyrical themes are unique in their own fashion, too.  All three of the songs addressed here support the noted statements.  When they are considered along with the rest of the album’s works, the album in whole proves itself a work that is among the best of this year’s new World Music offerings.  It is available now.  More information on the album is available online along with all of the band’s latest news at:









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Manhu’s Debut Album Is 2020’s First Great World Music Album

Courtesy: Riverboat Records/World Music Network

China was in the news a lot last year thanks to the ongoing issue of trade concerns between that nation and the United States.  Now with the start of a brand new year, World Music Network is bringing more attention to China, but in a far better fashion.  The label, which handles music from all around the world, will release Chinese musical group Manhu’s latest album Voices of the Sani Jan. 31 in partner with Riverboat Records.  The 11-song record is a work that will appeal to those with an appreciation for far East Asian music as well as those with an appreciation for music from places other than the United States.  One part of what makes the album worth taking in is its companion booklet.  In reading through the booklet, audiences will gain a new appreciation for the album’s overall music, which collectively adds its own share of engagement an entertainment for listeners.  The record’s sequencing is just as notable as its music and companion booklet.  When it is considered along with the album’s collective body of music and its companion booklet, the whole of those elements makes the album the year’s first notable World Music offerings.

Voices of the Sani, the debut album from Manhu is a positive first impression from the Chinese musical act.  It is a work that American audiences who appreciate music from outside the nation’s own borders will appreciate.  That is due in part to the album’s companion booklet.  The album’s booklet is important to note in that it presents a brief but concise background on the group while also outlining the lyrical themes of at least some of the album’s 11 songs.  Not every song is discussed in the companion booklet, but enough songs are addressed to give listeners a good starting point in understanding and appreciating the group’s aim in its chosen songs for the album.  The booklet points out the roots of the album’s music and that of its members, noting the members and music come from the Stone Forest region of the Yunnan province of China.  It continues, pointing out the deep and rich culture of the region’s more than nine million people are what influenced the album’s songs.  From there, the booklet’s liner notes point out the theme of songs, such as ‘Daughter’s Ballad,’ ‘Banquet Dance’ and ‘Ashima.’

The liner notes state of ‘Daughter’s Ballad,’ the song is about a mother who is struggling to come to terms with her daughter growing up, getting married and starting her own life.  ‘Banquet Dance,’ the liner notes state, is a celebratory work meant to honor guests into a household for a dinner.  ‘Ashima’ is similar, lyrically, to ‘Daughter’s Ballad,’ according to the album’s booklet.  It states the song centers on young people’s decision to choose their own mates, going against traditional Sani and Yi culture of accepting arranged marriages.  It’s just one more of the songs approached within the booklet’s liner notes.  Considering that the songs are sung entirely in the language of the Sani, these explanations are crucial in understanding at least some of the album’s songs.  That understanding leads to more appreciation for the album overall.

While not all of the songs featured in Voices of the Sani are addressed in the album’s booklet, the foundation that the addressed songs form – along with the history of the group and its culture – helps create a certain understanding and appreciation for the rest of the album.  Songs, such as ‘Folk Dance,’ ‘Brothers and Sisters’ and ‘Spring and Summer’ develop a new life.  Listeners can understand, thanks to the use of the traditional Sani instrumentations and vocal stylings in each song, what the group is working to translate musically.  Listeners do not have to be able to understand the lyrics to appreciate the songs.  They can read the song titles and take in the arrangements and instantly know what the group is discussing in each work.  That attention to being able to translate each song’s message musically more than makes up for the fact that the album’s lyrics are sung entirely in the language of the group’s people.  That effort works as well as it does because of the foundation formed through the album’s companion booklet.  The booklet sets the groundwork for the rest of the record.  Keeping all of this in mind, the noted booklet works in tandem with the album’s musical body to show even more why this record is a positive start for Manhu.  As much as those elements do for the album’s presentation, they are just some of its most notable elements.  The record’s sequencing plays into its sequencing, too.

Throughout the course of the album, its sequencing takes listeners on quite the journey.  From the celebratory vibes of ‘Banquet Dance’ and ‘Joys of Drinking’ to ‘Daughter’s Ballad,’ listeners go from the highest highs to the emotional impact of someone trying to come to terms of a major life change.  ‘Ashima,’ as noted already, is the polar opposite of ‘Daughter’s Ballad,’ presenting a much more positive sense as it celebrates a young person’s independence.  It is a stark contrast to the melancholy of ‘Daughter’s Ballad.’  The positive vibes continue from that point on in various degrees.  Some songs are more upbeat than others, but each song is celebratory and unique in its own way.  That variance and positive sense from each song does its own share to keep listeners engaged and entertained.  When this is considered along with the album’s liner notes and the songs themselves, the whole of the album becomes even more appealing to listeners.  They collectively make Voices of the Sani a strong debut from Manhu and the year’s first truly enjoyable World Music offering.

Manhu’s debut album Voices of the Sani is a work that will leave World Music fans around the world raising their voices in the best way possible.  That is due in part to the album’s booklet which effectively introduces the group and its culture, whicle just as effectively laying the groundwork to explain much of the album’s lyrical content.  That understanding helps listeners to enjoy the album’s songs from start to finish.  The album’s sequencing does its own part to keep listeners engaged and entertained throughout the album’s run.  When it is considered along with the album’s booklet and body, the whole of the album becomes a smart start for Manhu that World Music aficionados everywhere will appreciate.  More information on Voices of the Sani is available online along with all of Manhu’s latest news at


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